History, the living, breathing environment of yesterday, is a world that remains alive only through the endurance of its components. Without cultural resources such as historic structures, photographs, artifacts, and written records, that fascinating landscape created years ago would fade and eventually disappear. A guiding principle of the National Park Service is to preserve cultural resources for future generations. The heritage that is engrained in old sites and structures is physically restored and safeguarded through the process of “historic preservation.”
Congressional legislation has established procedures for dealing with historic structures within the federal domain. Section 106 of the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act provides controls which ensure that appropriate methods are followed and valuable resources are properly protected. Parks must comply with these guidelines before any physical work on historic structures can begin. A wide range of research must also be completed prior to the start of any actual preservation work. Investigative studies are conducted with the intent of learning as much as possible about the structure or site before the efforts to restore and preserve it begin. Dealing with the cultural and architectural history of a structure, its grounds, and potential environmental impacts on the area, the completed research reports serve as the framework for all future administrative planning and activity.